Independent Restaurateur March 2015 : Page 8

Locavore Libations Sumptuous Syrups aren’t just for infusing your booze with flavor; you can stir up some DIY sodas or even splash them into your baked goods to pack a punch. Photo courtesy of Sumptuous Syrups. By Tamara Scully “The syrups for Don were just for fun,” Fox says. “We played with these syrups for a year and a half, and I made 11 different flavors. We had no idea that this would turn into a business.” Perhaps it should have been expected that this gift, given in this time and place -Hardwick, Vermont, the small town which re-invented itself with local food -was going to become revolutionary. The syrups launched in June, 2012. “It surprised me when I did the research that we appear to be the first commercial cocktail syrup company in the United States with a direct link to the farmers,” Fox says. For Fox and Horrigan, production has to remain small enough so that every batch is “people-created,” not mechanized. While that tops out somewhere around 500 gallons a batch maximum, Sumptuous Syrups of Vermont is currently making batches about one-tenth that size. They concentrate the harvest immediately, and freeze it to keep the flavors at peak until the next batch of syrup is produced. Real syrup There’s more to the recipe than keeping batches small. These syrups are about the farm, the farmers, promoting natural non-chemical production methods, and providing the customer with so much more than artificial, sugar-laden cocktail ingredients. “Sumptuous Syrups farm-to-bar concentrated craft cocktail syrups are Sensational, sultry, satisfying -even sexy -could all be appropriately applied to describe an emerging line of farm-to-table concoctions. Instead, these creations, the product of a partnership between a chef/gardener/ food entrepreneur and a bartender/ mixologist, have been dubbed “Sumptuous Syrups of Vermont”. Sumptuous Syrups of Vermont have nothing to do with maple sugaring. “Vermont’s Other Syrup,” these cocktail syrups are born on the farm and mixed at the bar into natural, locavore cocktails. Sumptuous Syrups can offer a bang for your buck, eliminating additives and artifice, and delivering a punch of potent natural flavor, perfect for mixing that drink, enjoying over ice cream, or pouring onto pancakes. “As we focus on the best sustainable organic produce our farmers grow, Sumptuous Syrups is concentrated, with a less-is-more attitude, to showcase the beautiful herbs, berries, and spices, instead of just the organic sugar cane, in our syrups,” says Don Horrigan, co-owner, bartender and cocktail creator. Though their intended use is as cocktail syrups, these creations can be used in baking, for marinades, salad dressings, or as a concentrated fruit drink mix. Founded in the fertile soil of the local food movement, locally-sourced organic produce (grown by small family farmers) is the primary ingredient. “We wanted to be a part of the movement to remind people where their food comes from and who grew it, how they grew it and why,” co-owner Linda Fox, in charge of “managing and manifestation,” says. “Living in northern Vermont, we understand that there are a lot of products that can’t be grown here, or only in greenhouses,” so if a high-quality product is not available locally, they seek it out elsewhere, using the same principles of supporting small family farmers. Natural selection Sumptuous Syrups of Vermont wasn’t meant to be a commercial enterprise. It was born in friendship and fun, and all began when Horrigan received a gift: homemade cocktail syrup, directly from the Fox’s garden. Fox, a customer at the restaurant where Horrigan worked, knew of his intense interest in local foods and his specific desire to enhance the farm-to-table focus with something fresh at the bar. “At the time, only working local-vore, and knee-deep in snow, a fresh handcrafted raspberry syrup was most welcomed,” Horrigan recalls. Horrigan began using the handcrafted syrups and trying out unique cocktail recipes on the bar’s beer and wine crowd. With a warm reception from customers and the opening of the Vermont Food Venture Center, Fox and Horrigan began to develop the syrups into a commercial enterprise. “We wanted to be a part of the movement to remind people where their food comes from and who grew it, how they grew it and why.” 8 March 2015

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